Driving to Dharamsala, I noticed a lot of Hanuman Temples — on the way back down the mountains these would all be splashed with orange paint. As we got further into Punjab, I started seeing real monkeys hanging out on the temple walls.
I pointed this out to Vikrant, who was unimpressed. “I don’t like monkeys. I like Hanuman, but I don’t like monkeys.”
“Why?” I asked.
“When I was little, monkeys jumped on me and took my food and scratched my face. I don’t like monkeys.”
When I reached McLeod Ganj, I had another monkey alert. On the back of my door in the Pema Thang were warnings: “Shut the doors and the windows (or the wire-meshing) to your balcony when going out, MONKEYS may enter your room.” “Do not feed the MONKEYs & DOGs”
Sure enough when I walked out on the balcony, I heard rustling in the trees. I could see their little faces peeking out of the foliage. They were checking out my doors and windows (or the wire-meshing).
During my walks around McLeod Ganj, I saw little troops of monkeys looking for mischief. And some large single males getting into trouble. But I also saw evidence that Buddhists try to love monkeys anyway and want them to be happy.
Back in Delhi at the airport, I was talking to an Indian traveler. He told me that when the Delhi subway opened some of the first riders were monkeys who followed people on trying to get bags of chips. Once on the subway the monkeys tried to escape with the chips and when they realized they were trapped in the car, they went ape. The solution was to hire Langur-wallahs. Street performers who with their charges, the much larger Langur, terrify the smaller monkeys and chase them off the trains. According to my informant, there are several Langurs and their wallahs on the subway payroll. Sure enough there’s a WikiNews story that supports him.